Gradishar perfect as Champion takes down Garfield, 17-0

Staff photo / Brian Yauger Champion's Hailey Householder slides into home during the first inning of Thursday's game against Garfield. Householder recorded four hits in the win.

GARRETTSVILLE — There are few better ways to set the tone in softball than a first-pitch home run.

Champion junior Gabby Gradishar did just that, pairing that with a perfect game in the circle to lead the Golden Flashes to a 17-0 win over league rival Garfield on Thursday.

Gradishar’s opening homer was the ultimate tone-setter and was a perfect showcase of what was to come. She hit a second home run in the fifth inning as well.

“She’s done this a couple times now (this year,)” Champion coach Cheryl Weaver said. “That sets the tone and kind of takes the air out of their sails a little bit, so you can’t ask for much more than that.”

In the circle, the Flashes’ ace went three-up, three-down for all five innings, facing just 15 batters. Gradishar struck out 10 and surrendered zero hits.

Senior shortstop Bella Meyer played a role in that, with a pair of outstanding catches, including a sliding grab that likely saved her pitcher’s perfect outing.

“She’s just so smooth and graceful moving to the ball,” Weaver said of her shortstop.

Offensively, the Flashes recorded 17 total hits, including four home runs — two from Gradishar, one from Hailey Householder, and one from Sam Strock. In total, eight Champion players recorded hits, and six players recorded multiple hits. Householder led the way with four.

“That team is just unbelievable,” Garfield coach Tina Faulhaber said. “We celebrated when we didn’t get run-ruled by them last time, and I think they kind of took it personally, I really do. They’re the kind of team that we played a full game against last time and they made sure that we didn’t do that this time.”

In a game like this, it could be easy for the G-Men to simply melt down. Faulhaber and staff have made it a goal to celebrate the little victories when they come.

Not every team is Champion, so when Garfield sees success against the Flashes, they want to encourage that to be a regular thing, so they can have greater success against other teams.

“We’ve talked about small victories. We celebrated foul balls today because we put it in play,” Faulhaber said. “We talked about controlling what you can control and using it for tomorrow when we play LaBrae. That’s another good team, so take this lesson. You can’t have mental errors where you don’t know where to throw the ball. You can’t have moments where you don’t dive and you don’t keep it in the infield, because good teams are going to take advantage of it and that’s what they did. We need to take what happened here and realize other teams can do the same thing if you don’t up your game. We’re just trying to celebrate little things and keep our heads up.”

Garfield (4-2) hosts LaBrae tonight.

The Flashes open next week with a two-game set against Liberty. Monday’s game is scheduled to be at home.

For Champion, who has scored 17 runs more times (four), than they’ve been held under 10 runs (twice), it’s about constant improvement. Working some new players in, Weaver had concerns, but so far things are looking good for the 9-0 squad.

“Gabby has been hard on the mound and of course at the dish too, but it’s more than just her too,” Weaver said. “Addy (Warzala) behind the plate, Bella (Meyer) at shortstop, and all of them they’ve been playing great. You can’t say much more than that. Hailey Householder moved from the outfield to first base and she’s been hitting the ball well. Grace Hadley at third, they’ve all been doing great.”

Have an interesting story? Contact Brian Yauger by email at byauger@tribtoday.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @_brianyauger.


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